Senior Series 2024 | Search Now, Search Always!

Image of diploma and shaking hands at a job interview

Senior Series 2024: Getting Started in Your Job Search

Leading up to the end of the semester, the UVM Career Center presents Seniors and soon-to-be-graduates with an assortment of focused topics to start your career chapter off right. This week: Getting started in your job search. So, let’s start at the beginning – knowing what you want in a job.

Know What Is Possible

The first step in beginning your job search is understanding what career paths are possible based on your major, skills and experience. You might be surprised by the number of options you have.

A Note On Stress
We know all of this can be stressful. Some level of stress is actually a good thing – it motivates us and helps us grow – check out this article on Job-search-anxiety.  That said, if you’re finding stress is getting the better of you – do reach out to CAPS for help.

Refer to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for career ideas that appeal to you. This site also provides salary information and educational requirements. 

Use UVMConnect as a research tool. You could start searching by major and noting what jobs other alums have pursued. Remember, most people have labeled themselves as “Willing to help”, so you should have no hesitation sending them a short message with questions. See example messages.

To find more UVM alums, do some more research with the LinkedIn Alumni tool. Like UVMConnect, you can look at their profiles to see their unique career journey. You can also message them with a question, and don’t forget to mention your common Catamount bond!

Know What Is Important

By now you probably have a good sense of what is important to you for your career. If you are still deciding, try using some of these tools.

Know Where to Find It

Many job boards are for a general audience. However, if you are looking for a specific field, be sure to use the appropriate board for that job.

An expansive list of general job boards.

Remember: Not everyone approaches their career journey the same way, and that’s okay! It’s important to remember you’re not embarking on this new journey alone. We’re here to help you along your path. Here’s a handy checklist which we will explain more in future posts.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to drop in at Davis Center Room 204 and talk with our peer leaders. We’re available Monday to Thursday 10 am to 2 pm, we’d love to connect with you!

Don’t lose touch with valuable career tools you have access to for life! Your email won’t last forever so be sure to:

Smart Job Search Strategies

As you search for jobs, keep in mind that the process will probably take longer than you think. Devote a few hours each week to searching and applying to positions.

  • Adjust your search terms to get different results. Ex: “medical laboratory scientist” and “medical laboratory science” will yield different results and think broadly – not just “teacher” but also “educator” and “instructor.”
  • Use filters and save searches so that you will be notified when your criteria are met.
  • Stay organized in your job search using a spreadsheet – sample at the bottom of this checklist.

This video will help you reflect on your values and interests to determine the kind of job / workplace you seek. Search strategies to quickly sift through job postings are also discussed. Learn how to decode a job description and how to leverage LinkedIn to find jobs.

Decoding a Job Description 

  • Typically, the most important requirements are written first.
  • Education level or certifications are typically not flexible.
  • Years of experience might be flexible.
  • Don’t get hung up on titles – a coordinator at one company might be a manager at another. 

Second: Read between the lines – phrases like “self-starter” may mean you will be working alone a lot so be sure to highlight your ability to work independently; jobs seeking a “team player” may want to hear more about your experience collaboration.

Stay tuned for our next installments every Monday morning in your inbox! And remember the Career Center is available to alums for life!

ALSO: Don’t lose touch with valuable career tools you have access to for life! Your email won’t last forever so be sure to:

Senior Series 2024 | Find Your People

UVM Connect Logo

Hey Seniors, the countdown to graduation has started, and the reality of post-graduation life is becoming more real every day.  To help you get ready for this transition, the Career Center will be in your inbox every week for the next seven weeks with useful tips & tricks to ensure your plans for life after UVM are shaping up as you’d like. 

Engage with Alums on UVM Connect!

Getting Started

The easiest way to get started with career preparation is to find the people who want to help you. If you haven’t already, consider joining UVM Connect. There are thousands of UVM alums on the network actively willing to help fellow UVMers with career advice and networking ideas. If you haven’t joined yet, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. 

When you join, you’ll be asked to join a Career Interest Group as you complete your profile. Already on LinkedIn? You can import your profile info over to UVM Connect. If you’ve already joined, click the Groups tab on the left side to find groups that are right for you. Join as many as you want. Now, it’s time to leverage that network. 

This short video will tell you how to set up your profile and join groups before reaching out to alums.

Search the Directory

Now that you’re in a group, search the directory for the kind of people who can help you.

  1. Use key words – If you’re not totally sure what you’re looking for, you can start searching by topic, job title or other words that are associated with the kind of career you want in the future. Keep in mind that your key word search will find that word anywhere in someone’s profile. Using a common word like “technician” might yield a lot of results that are not relevant to your needs.
  2. Filter by users Offering Mentoring – Using the filters on the right will guarantee that you are getting results that only include alums “Willing to Help” in the ways you indicated.
  3. Filter by Major or College – You can also search to find what other people with your major are doing. UVM Connect has a list of all majors that ever existed at UVM. Sometimes the name of a major changes, so make sure you click all majors that sound similar to what you’e looking for.

Reach out

The UVM Career Center has sample communications that can guide your outreach to alums through UVM Connect and LinkedIn. Consider dropping by the Career Center for help crafting a message of your own, or use these samples as inspiration as you reach out to alums or prospective employers.

This short video shows how to find an alum willing to provide a job shadow opportunity.


Be sure to follow up with a thank you message. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way. This also gives you a chance to ask a follow-up questions.

And don’t be shy about keeping in touch afterward. Hopefully your first conversation is just the beginning.

Stay tuned for our next installments every Monday morning in your inbox! And remember the Career Center is available to alums for life!

ALSO: Don’t lose touch with valuable career tools you have access to for life! Your email won’t last forever so be sure to:

Interview with Chris Offensend ’10

Chris Offensend graduated UVM in 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He went on to pursue graduate studies in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech before launching his career at Boeing. Throughout these experiences, Chris paid attention to what he wanted. And that desire led him to business school and entrepreneurship. In this interview, Chris talks about his journey and the early indications he felt leading him to start his own business. He offers students a helpful framework for how to approach their internships, as well as the different stages of their career, thinking of each experience as an experiment to test a hypothesis.

Sam: Chris, could you tell me about your story and how your path set you up for a successful start-up?

Chris: My story is a winding one. I started out at as a mechanical engineer major at UVM. But even by my junior and senior year, I still lacked a clear sense of where I wanted to go. My classes were good, and I really enjoyed the advanced courses. That uncertainty led me to go to graduate school.

Graduate school helped me in a couple of ways. It involved a lot of system design, which would serve me later. It also helped me to land an internship in aerospace that led to my job at Boeing.

My work at Boeing put me in a context that I was not used to; I was involved in manufacturing, research, and development – subjects that my UVM courses only provided a generic understanding. But it did involve a great deal of problem solving, which I enjoyed.

I encountered a personal problem when the Boeing corporation made the decision to move away from Seattle. I was not willing to relocate. This challenge led me to think more broadly. As a result, I enrolled in a Startup Weekend program, where participants would quickly move from ideating, pitching, and then launching a project all in the course of a weekend. It led to a lot of failure, but the experience was highly formative.

As a result, I became more curious about starting my own venture and decided to enroll in business school. As I learned about business theory, I wondered about if I still had what it takes to launch a start up. When it came time to secure an internship, I ran the experiment by joining an early-generation startup. I learned a lot, but the whole time I was asking myself, ‘is this a fit for me?’ The whole internship experience was transformative. It taught me a lot about scale, and I was empowered after that to go back and revisit my vision.

Sam: What immediate experiences led you to the idea for your startup?

Chris: There are people who are shoe-horned into entrepreneurship. These are the people who solve a problem, whose idea itself holds tremendous value. The process then becomes a matter of commercializing that existing idea. For people like this, entrepreneurship is kind of forced on them. 

And then there are people like myself, who op in to become entrepreneurs. The reasons can be different, and for me it was a desire to be impactful, to address social concerns through a double bottom line. When entrepreneurship is your decision, then you have to decide what is the problem area that you want to tackle. The key is to find a problem that holds enough energy for you that it can sustain your efforts for five to ten years. 

I found that problem area with a former UVM roommate who was telling me about the problems local governments face in procurement. The problem is costly since it involves steep overhead that can overtax local municipalities. And through our startup, Qwally, we are able to help local governments address that procurement issue.

Sam: What is some advice that you would give to students who are now studying at UVM and may have entrepreneurship aspirations? 

Chris: I think internships are a big one. For me, this was a transformative experience. Every internship is like a career experiment. You get to run a test on a career hypothesis. Even if the internship is a bad fit, you can ask, why was this a bad experience? What went wrong? What did I learn – not just about an industry, but about yourself?

I remember one internship I had at UVM. It was not a good fit for me. It did not match my expectations. But I learned from that experience by asking myself: do I like this? Do I want to do this? The reaction is either hot or cold. In that case, it was cold, and I moved forward.

Sam: You had a couple of experiences in graduate school. Could you talk about the differences in those settings and how they shaped your journey?

Chris: It is important to understand that in graduate school you can’t always get what you want, but you do need to know what you are looking for. In my first setting, I gained a lot of exposure to a subject area that was a good fit. I even thought about a PhD for a minute; but that was another experiment that didn’t play out. The experiment as a whole did play out, though, because it increased my overall career options.

From there, I continued to follow my gut. This was certainly true by the time I went to business school. From the first setting to the second, I moved from a focus on one particular industry to a general, or broad range of possibilities. This range offered me more flexibility; it opened more options. It allowed me to diverge from my current trajectory. In business school, everyone was doing something totally different; and I suddenly became aware of options that I had never considered. It was really inspiring. Again, this allowed me to run lots of career experiments, helping me to refine what I wanted to do, so that I graduated feeling much more confident about where I wanted to go.

Sam: I can tell this was transformative. Could you tell me more about what you felt in that space?

Chris: It was definitely overwhelming at first, but then it was inspiring. I go back to the startup weekends. That experience was completely overwhelming. I left that not exactly feeling confident, but I knew I needed more experience. I think experiences of overwhelm can teach us about those gaps in knowledge or skills. It is an opportunity for us to develop ourselves. The startup weekends gave me a basic framework to work on those gaps, when I got to business school, it clicked and everything suddenly made sense. 

As an entrepreneur, you are going to experience overwhelm. There is always a gap between theory and practice. And the bridge between those two is curiosity. Entrepreneurs have to be inherently curious to succeed. It is my biggest driving force. That curiosity pushes me to keep seeking out new experiences. If I encounter something new, I can join in, learn from it, and test more hypotheses. It doesn’t hurt to have a good fall back. In business school, I thought, I can always pivot and take on a job. I knew lots of classmates whose experiments failed, and they took a job somewhere. But in either case, the day to day is the same: positioning yourself in a new place where you can learn and operate to position yourself for the next experiment. 

Find the Right Fit

Choosing a Job that “Fits” Your Unique Journey


Embarking on the journey of choosing a job is much like exploring a vast wardrobe filled with possibilities. Your career is a significant aspect of your life and finding the “right fit” is crucial for long-term satisfaction and success. In this blog post, we’ll delve into key considerations and strategies for selecting a job that aligns with your diverse set of skills, passions, and aspirations. 

Taking Time to Reflect To Know What Is Truly Important 

Just as diverse fashion styles reflect various personalities, consider the richness of your passions and interests. What activities make you lose track of time? What subjects ignite your curiosity? Identifying these aspects helps you understand what truly matters to you in a job, embracing the uniqueness of everyone’s journey. 

Similar to choosing clothes that complement different body shapes and styles, celebrate the diversity of your skills and strengths. What are your natural talents? Which skills do you excel in? Reflecting on your abilities provides valuable insights into the roles where you can thrive and make a meaningful impact, recognizing the strength in diversity. 

Fashion choices are personal, so are your core values. Consider what values are important to you in a work environment and how your long-term priorities align with your career goals. Choosing a job that resonates with your values ensures a fulfilling and meaning-driven career journey, embracing the diversity of perspectives.  

So, how do you get started? Here are some reflection questions recommended by our staff and values sorter tool help you think about what is most important to you. We also have a Brightspace page with a module to help you Reflect on Your Interests, Values and Skills and other career related resources like our Gear Up to Graduate section. Still open to exploring, check out this resource called My Next Move

What are others saying about the importance of reflection? Check out these two articles from Indeed and LinkedIn – Why Self Reflection is Key to Making the Right Choice & 100 Reflection Question for Personal and Professional Growth. 

What are your Job Criteria?

Before you dive into the world of job opportunities, take a moment to identify the criteria that matter most to you. Just as your wardrobe reflects your personal style preferences, consider what elements are non-negotiable for your ideal job. These criteria can serve as your guiding principles as you navigate the diverse landscape of career options. 

Selecting the right job is like choosing an outfit that suits the occasion, and that occasion is your unique lifestyle. Reflect on the lifestyle you envision for yourself. How important is work-life balance to you? What working hours and schedule best suit your preferences? Ensuring that your job aligns with your desired lifestyle acknowledges the diverse ways individuals find balance.  

Here are some helpful resources to help you identify and prioritize job criteria: 

How to Figure Out What You Want to Do 

Finding the Right Career 

Personal Decision Criteria When Considering Possible Jobs 

After identifying your job criteria, you can approach your job search with a clearer understanding of your preferences. Remember, the key to a fulfilling professional life is not merely finding a job but discovering one that harmonizes with all aspects of your life – resonating with who you are and aligning with your distinct journey. By embracing your uniqueness and aligning your criteria with your career choices, you’ll be well on your way to discovering opportunities that perfectly suit you. 

Building Your Industry Community & Staying Informed about Market Trends

Much like embracing diverse fashion trends, staying informed about current and future trends in the job market is crucial. Explore whether the chosen career is in demand or might face potential changes. Being aware of market dynamics helps you make informed decisions and position yourself for long-term success, acknowledging the diversity of career landscapes. 

Take the initiative to join industry forums, attend networking events, and subscribe to relevant publications to actively engage with your professional community. By staying connected and well-informed, you’ll not only navigate the evolving job market more effectively but also foster valuable connections that can contribute to your career growth. 

You’re not alone.


The Career Center is here to support you, even after you’ve graduated. Reach out for personalized career guidance, job search assistance, and resources to ensure your continued success in the ever-evolving professional landscape. Our commitment to your career journey extends beyond graduation, and we are here to help you thrive in your chosen field.

Contact us at  

Alum Spotlight: Rosario Arias

We spoke with Rosario Arias (‘87), a seasoned professional in the tech industry, to discuss her remarkable journey from pioneering online banking in the ’80s to navigating today’s rapidly evolving AI landscape. With a background in computer science from UVM, Rosario reflects on the invaluable lessons she learned as an international student and the collaborative spirit that defined her early career. As a woman of color in a field historically lacking diversity, she shares her strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome and emphasizes the importance of seeking out opportunities for growth and mentorship.

Could you give me some background about yourself: name, pronouns, what you studied at UVM?
My name is Rosario Arias, and I’m she/her pronouns. I studied computer science with a minor in, what was called, Information Management from the Business School back in the ‘80s at UVM. Through the years, there’s been a decline in women participating in this career; however, my cohort had a lot of women in it back then. 

After graduation I worked as a programmer for a bank in Miami, FL and developing sort of what you would say is an online banking system for them without the internet existing yet. It was more of a snapshot where the customer would dial into their account and be able to see an image of their current transactions and balance every morning.  The thought existed as a concept for people to be able to do online banking, so it was pretty innovative in a sense and pretty exciting to be part of that!

And at the same time, I was part of a small group working on that and many of the engineers were much older than I was so that was my training ground and intro into the business world the first three years after graduating from college. I decided I wanted to move back to the Northeast and again, there’s no Internet, so it was very hard to figure out what companies were hiring so I went back to UVM and I asked for help. 

Back then, there was a Career Center, so through the Career Center, they were able to connect me with different companies that were hiring, and one of them happened to be a company that was headquartered in Vermont. I went through the interview process and got hired, so I ended up moving back to Vermont. That was not the plan that I had originally, but that’s where life took me. In a sense, that was great because I already knew the area but, I was coming back in a different mode, now as a person living in the community, not as a student. 

I got hired by this small company whose focus was in software development for products that were used by hospitals, clinics and radiology groups. They were homegrown but became really big so, when the owners decided that they wanted to retire they sold the company to General Electric healthcare; therefore, I became GE employee. We worked as part of the healthcare for 12 years, I believe, and then GE decided to break apart. I ended up now working for a different company called Athena Health, still working on the development side and still in the same area which is healthcare and revenue cycle management. I’ve been in my latest role for 10 years now.

What is difference between me and the other person that might go for [an opportunity]? Why not me? If you feel you have the qualifications to do something and the ability to do it, why not you?

Rosario Arias (‘87)

We are all working on new technologies and new languages in modernizing our software.

So that’s been the latest stuff that we’ve been doing is we’ve been taking this legacy code that we brought from the old GE/IDX and now modernizing it all.

In your experience at UVM, was there certain clubs, courses, professors, any specific things that you feel helped guide you in your career pathway and prepare you for the workforce?
I came to UVM as an international student and back then, I was part of this cohort, and they were very supportive in providing me with ways of feeling comfortable in this new country and new environment. That’s what’s excellent – that UVM provided that back then. In terms of computer science, it was very focused on electrical engineering – something that I don’t see nowadays as part of the current curriculum. It was very math intensive as well, which is one aspect of the major that was very different then. Also, the fact that there was no internet made my cohort work together a lot. It taught us a lot about teamwork and helping each other because we would work in these computer labs and we would be there for hours.

During your time at UVM you said there was a lot of women in your cohort and in your classes; has the same remained true for your jobs/project teams?
Yeah, there were a lot of women in information science back then. Comparing that for example to where I work right now, we have QA engineers on top of the development engineers and they have documenters, but the development engineers, we’re only three women. So that’s the scenario that you are facing most likely, you might be the only female engineer in your group.

That’s something to keep in mind when you go out there and are looking at employers and jobs.

As both a woman and person of color in a field that has historically excluded women of color, how do you navigate imposter syndrome and building confidence within your profession?
Since my days at UVM I have always been involved in some group or leading some kind of group doing activities that provided me not just with something more to do, but a feeling of satisfaction and contentment, and that allowed me to build my network of support outside of just my working group. I feel that has always played a very strong role in making me feel confident at work and that I was just not there doing stuff with my working group.

One of the things that helped me to deal with the imposter syndrome too is I took a leadership course and one of the lessons that I learned there was about imposter syndrome. It’s, you know, how most of us feel, especially women. Some of the questions they said may come up are: who am I to volunteer? or who am I to say this/that? Who am I to lead that group or who am I to go for the promotion? 

And that was the lesson: why not me? What is difference between me and the other person that might go for [an opportunity]? Why not me? If you feel you have the qualifications to do something and the ability to do it, why not you? Why can it not be you; and I always say that to myself.

Either way it will provide you a lesson. Either yes, you’re a good fit or you’re not, and it might just lead you to something better. This doesn’t mean you’re always gonna get it right or get what you want, but why not try for it and just be involved in different things?

What is your take on A.I advancements/changes your field of work since you’ve graduated? How has it been impacting your line of work?
AI is such a big thing right now, and workers are asking how we use chat GPT. That’s the new thing we’re being pushed to figure out – how we can take advantage of that technology to make our software even more attractive to customers or to provide new features. So it always keeps improving, innovating and changing. Even though I’ve been working for so many years, my knowledge and career keeps shifting. And just so you know, to give you an incentive, wherever you start, it’s not going to stay the same. Hopefully students will be working on something that will keep innovating, challenging and pushing them to learn new stuff.”

Have you been learning how to use AI at your company and integrate it into your work for your benefit?

I’m not learning any of it yet, it was more: let’s explore what it means and how it could be used.

Like where it would be the right place for us to apply that technology in our software. So it’s very, very new for us. I don’t know where that’s going to lead us, but you know, here it is!”

How do you feel about this new shift of everyone in this sort of AI craze?
Everything must be coded, right? So, you know, like the way my group saw it, if we have other things that were precursors to this AI idea, that’s what we could use AI for. I’m very open minded; it could be applied to different areas, but we still are trying to figure out exactly where to use it and, at the same time, you have to always be careful about security and privacy because we deal with a lot of private healthcare information from individuals, so that also comes into play.

It just keeps you challenged, and it is exciting because you don’t feel like you’re just stuck and not learning; well, it also depends on employer.

So, do you feel the reason why you’ve been able to stick with one employer for so long is because you’ve never felt stationary or unchallenged by your job?
Correct, exactly that. That has been the main reason, the challenge was always there.

I never felt that I was stuck in something, that there was no going upward movement or experiencing/learning something new.. Had that been the case, I would have been looking for a different job.

What do you recommend students do to build skill and confidence outside of just courses?
You just gotta keep trying different things, dipping your feet in different projects or initiatives.

Ask yourself, in any new involvement, where is this going to lead you? Is it going to open up a door for you? There’s nothing you do that will not be useful for you to use in your future. You know, another female in engineer called me ‘the real deal’ the other day and I said, what do you mean that I’m the real deal? 

She said, well, you’ve had so many years of working in the field as a software engineer.

There are so few people like that, women like that. And then she started asking me questions like how did I do it? How did I raise a family while working and stay in the industry?

When I was working for GE I was able to maintain my full employee status and keep working about 25 hours a week, and that allowed me time to be able to also have, raise and be involved with my kids. One huge benefit from the pandemic was the open-mindedness of companies to allow for remote work. However, if you end up in a position where you are working remotely most of the time, I would encourage you to find ways of connecting with people somehow.

There are many ways of connecting online and breaking barriers and just being able to connect with people as if you had some interaction in the office, face to face.

As a seasoned professional in a STEM career; what advice do you have for students who may be questioning their abilities being new to their field of study?
You know, that feeling doesn’t go away. I mean, even after all these years, like this week, I was working on a project that involved new stuff that I wasn’t familiar with or very knowledgeable about. I felt so stupid. But then a coworker who knows more about it kind of guided me and, at the end, and it was not that hard to learn!

Would you be OK for like mentoring or speaking with students after this?
Sure, sure, of course! Remember you can do whatever you want!

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